Bud Black is either an extremely positive thinker or a master at public relations. Or, perhaps, he’s a little bit of both.
Because, despite the ugly facts to the contrary so far this season, the Rockies’ affable manager is keeping the faith. He believes that the lackluster showing by the bottom half of the batting order will spring to life, probably before the official start of summer. Plus, Black’s belief is bolstered by a check of the standings. Colorado entered Friday night’s game against Milwaukee at Coors Field with a 21-17 record, despite an offense stuck in low gear through the first six weeks of the season.
“There is an overall plan on how we are going to attack the opposing pitcher, and you will find over the course of a season that some guys are very comfortable at the plate and some guys are very uncomfortable,” Black said before the game. “We have got to get the point where we have a lot of guys comfortable and where we have a lot of guys swinging the bats well. We are not quite to that stage. When we get there, you will start seeing more run production.”
Facts, however, are facts. Consider: the fifth spot in Colorado’s order was batting .151 (last in the National League); sixth spot .226 (10th); seventh spot .206 (11th); and the eighth spot .180 (12th).
Coors Field, a well-known hitter’s paradise, has been anything but for the Rockies this season. Entering Friday, the club was batting .245 and averaging 4.1 runs per game at home. By comparison, the lowest runs per game at Coors in franchise history was 5.07, set in 2008.
A continuing problem has been Colorado’s nagging inability to get the big hit, in the big moment. Wednesday night, for example, Colorado batted 0-for-12 with eight strikeouts with runners in scoring position in an 8-0 loss to the Angels. Over the past 12 games, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters and Noel Cuevas were a combined 0-for-23 with runners in scoring position.
Iannetta, the veteran catcher who began the season on a hot streak, has seen his average plummet to .217. Still, he believes he will turn things around, just as he believe his teammates will.
“From a personal standpoint, early in the season I was getting pitches to hit, and I was taking advantage,” Iannetta said. “Then I went through a stretch where I wasn’t seeing (the ball) very well. Now, I feel really good up there, but I’m only getting one or two quality pitches. I know that’s going to change, for me and the team. Pitchers are going to make mistakes, and you could see us hitting really well for the next four or five months.”
Like Black, Iannetta is encouraged, rather than discouraged, about the current state of things.
“I think we are in a very good spot, because we haven’t hit to our capability and we are still above .500,” Iannetta said. “There’s too much talent on this offense … and we’ll get it going collectively and start rolling. When that is, I don’t know. People want it to be yesterday, but it’s going to happen.”
Dahl’s Ks. Outfielder David Dahl was out of the starting lineup Friday night, despite hitting .300 and notching at least one hit in 11 of his first 16 games since getting called up from Triple-A Albuquerque. Dahl’s biggest struggles have been trying to hit left-handers (2-for-17) and striking out at a high rate (40 percent).
Black said those things will change, given time.
“He continues to grow,” he said. “One thing that’s been a little alarming to me is the amount of strikeouts for David. I think that will have to come down. That shouldn’t happen for David. He’s going to continue to play and continue to get back in the rhythm of the season. There are signs the he is contributing.”